By Kyle Roernik
Judge Robert Estes’ recent decision in the Seventh Judicial District Court was another blow to the Las Vegas Pipeline. His ruling denied the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s applications in Spring, Cave, Dry Lake, and Delamar Valleys along with the corresponding Monitoring, Management, and Mitigation plan.
As it stands, the Southern Nevada Water Authority does not have the water rights and the federal right of way it needs to fulfill its decades-long pursuit of pumping and piping 58 billion gallons of water annually from local valleys to Vegas.
So what’s next? SNWA could appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court or it could revise its long-term strategy. The Judge’s ruling also scourged past decisions by former Nevada State Engineers –– meaning that the state could also purse more legal action to overturn Estes decision. We hope that SNWA and the State take a course that leaves rural Nevada alone.
For 30 years, the SNWA’s menacing proposal has given the community little comfort about their economic and ecologic futures. Local farmers, ranchers, and other businesses feared about the lifeblood of their operations. Tribes warned about the loss of sacred sites. Environmentalists and other advocates cautioned about the long-term impacts on flora and fauna.
Since 2004, there have been multiple battles in the State Engineer’s office, Nevada’s District and Supreme Courts, federal court, Congress, the Nevada Legislature, and the Utah Legislature to get us where we are today. There have been showdowns on the range between SNWA ranchers and longtime stock growers in the region. There have been many sleepless nights, long drives, and costly endeavors to push back against powerful interests in Vegas.
The Great Basin Water Network is grateful to all who have supported our efforts during the last three decades. Whether you’ve come to Snake Valley Festival, contributed online, or showed up at one of the many hearings –– without you all –– we would not be where we are today.
This recent victory, however, is not a signal to let our guard down. We don’t know what will happen next. But we do know this: The thirst for water in the nation’s driest state won’t be satiated any time soon.